Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon
Visit the Midday Edition homepage

San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria With An Update On City Business

October 28, 2013 1:26 p.m.


Todd Gloria, Interim Mayor, San Diego.

Related Story: San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria With An Update On City Business


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Our top story on Midday Edition San Diego's interim Mayor Todd Gloria is finishing up his second month in that position and while the Mayor's race rages on Mayor Gloria and the city Council are moving forward with some big projects from a major infrastructure bond to a reworking of the San Diego city charter. Todd Gloria, welcome to the show.

TODD GLORIA: Thanks Maureen. Thanks for having me on

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now we are opening up the phones to take questions for Mayor Gloria give us a call at 1-888-895-5727. You held a news conference last month to propose a $120 million infrastructure bond. Since the backlog of infrastructure fixes is estimated at maybe 900 million and beyond. Isn't that just a drop in the bucket?

TODD GLORIA: From that perspective yes but the size of the bomb that I'm recommending is reflective of our financial capacity, what we can afford and what we can reasonably get done. I don't think anyone is under the impression we can undo decades of neglect in the neighborhoods overnight it's going to take some time so the $120 million bond is full of projects for almost every neighborhood and we are working on those at the same time as we're trying to internally streamline our processes to make sure we are stretching our resources further going out and soliciting more public input via Barker C and is infrastructure committee and putting together a five-year plan. Right now we don't have a longer view when it comes to the infrastructure problem and all of this is going on at once. Naturally the bond is the most interesting thing because those are real projects to create jobs today but it's part of a comprehensive effort that I was leading as the Council president and now they have the honor of doing while I'm fulfilling the duties of Mayor.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You open up an interesting question because how much can the city bar for infrastructure fixes somewhere down the line we have to find the money in the general fund?

TODD GLORIA: These are backed by the general fund but there's a limit to what we can afford much like you can only put so much on your credit card at home we will reach the limit on the not too distant future that is why we need to have the multiyear plan and then at one point the city leaders whether I'm still there or if this is beyond my time in office think level with the office and ask them what they'd like to do. There's a limit to what we can afford. The reason our roads are in such poor condition is because the city's finances haven't allowed for now we are back in the bond market, the municipal credit worthiness as opposed improve that the city is picking up we want to take that ability and not ported to projects that may be of dubious economic return for really for projects that lift up neighborhood so you see $43 million for road repair, more refurbished fire stations in several committees, progress on new branch libraries a number of things we are proposing that are neighborhood oriented.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering how you're going to figure out what get fixed first

TODD GLORIA: We started as a part of a comprehensive effort the first set of condition assessments we were not really checking the quality of stuff so we've been doing that with roads for some type and entered million dollar figure you mentioned before is the outgrowth of previous condition studies. This year the Council for the first time effort has asked for condition assessment of the sidewalks of this is part of a more comprehensive effort in the condition indexes that we are bringing forward are more objective rather than subjective. I know that if there is a pothole in front of your street, in front of your home you are probably inclined to believe it's the worst street in the city as someone who has to figure out how to prioritize we need to do that in a broader sense. We need to figure out how to do that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There's a series of neighborhood infrastructure workshops going on now I belief each of them headed by the city Council member of the district they are in, what do you hope to learn from that series of meetings?

TODD GLORIA: I think two things perhaps one is to elevate this discussion I think part of the reason why we've ended up in a situation where infrastructure is in such poor repair is that we haven't talked about it a lot. I jokingly refer to sexy streets. The thought behind that is if you attract attention to an issue it's much more likely to get funded and naturally public safety we rarely gets a lot of attention but neglecting infrastructure for so long is a part of the problem so these workshops are hoping that. Initially I think we knowledge that all the answers are not in City Hall but the public particularly the individual neighborhood level can tell us which projects need prioritizing it may be that we ended up with a larger list that we walked in with but we could also have projects on the but that we are starting to make money for that the neighborhood me now on. So if that is the case that can help us reduce the size of our obligation really syllabus prioritize urgent projects that need attention today and delay for another day when we may have more money a project that is not as necessary.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I just want everyone to know that the maximum of these neighborhood infrastructure workshops is at the Malcolm X library this Wednesday at 6 PM. I'm talking with San Diego interim Mayor Todd Gloria and we are taking your calls 188-895-5727. I just want to slip in a tweet that we received we asked people for questions and one question that came in is this, when will Chicano Park get bathrooms that are cleaned every day and do not look like prison cells.

TODD GLORIA: I saw that treat and I appreciate your listeners tweaking out this is a part of a budget correction a few years ago when we were facing about hundred $70 million budget deficit. One of the ways we close the gap is to reduce maintenance and community so it is not just Chicano Park I get folks who frequent mission Bay Park and they are not as open as they would like is the city's finances improved as the economy improves and we have new revenue that comes in as a result of that we have to as a community prioritize the meat and potatoes stuff that is not again almost the sexiest thing in the city's budget but he needs to be done and so I would hope that the public like that person who tweeted Reminding councilmembers and whoever ends up being Mayor that we need to do those things first that we made some productions, we made some sacrifices during the great recession and we cannot take any sort of new resources and compile them into new things. We need to back so, we have to grow the number of library hours we have at the branch libraries we need to continue to hire police officers and firefighters the sort of baseline stuff we had to scale back on during the recession that we need to restore today. That's really a budgetary issue and given the chance circumstances we are in now I will have a heavy hand in forming the budget and this would be on a priority list for me.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Speaking of the cutbacks that had to be made during the recession your strength the Sanders administration many city departments were consolidated. One of the biggest things that the city Council and you are taking on now are looking at the reorganization our city management. How do you think the city would benefit from the process?

TODD GLORIA: Immensely, this is something that's an outgrowth of the top-down review of a department that I called for seven weeks ago when I took over the duties of Mayor. People ask themselves how can one person wreak such havoc on a city government, and the answer in my view is that we have become a very flat organization. We have a tremendous number of department directors all report to one person and that is not terribly transparent. It's not all efficient and the oversight is really lacking in my opinion site bringing for this afternoon for the city Council's consideration a reorganization of the city's government. It will organize the city into discrete business units and you will have I think greater transparency, oversight and efficiency added into that proposal are some considerations around additional actual efficiencies. How can we reduce the cost of government and take the savings in the back into neighborhood services there's also recognition we need to start investing in the employees. When the previous demonstration quickly scared away a lot of top officials we have key positions are vacant because of that. What we found is we have wonderful city employees but we have not invested in their future and these folks may want to stay with us as there's a management academy that I'm recommending so we can identify the key talent invest in them and keep them in the organization for a long period of time.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Just to be clear when you said how could one person can wreak so much havoc on the city you are talking about former Mayor Bob Filner and the fact that all city departments had to report to him.

TODD GLORIA: Right and our form of government is made that way. We have the strong mayor strong Council form of government and what it has incredibly flat. So just a chief administrative officer and the Mayor and that is about it and what I find is that the span of control is unrealistic. That you do not have the level of detailed information, the follow up, the expectation, the performance measures and the structure that I'm recommending I think will allow for that and therefore again we could be more transparent to the public on what is getting done. We could hold directors accountable and if they are not performing you know, make some changes and be more efficient overall.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Would this new alignment cost the city more money annually?

TODD GLORIA: It will. It's a pretty de-minimus amount of money overall for the city's budget. And I think it's money well spent. I think that by investing in our employees and in our organization which, like the bathrooms in Chicano Park were reduced during the leaner years we need to invest in our organization. We are a good organization. This proposal will make us a great organization.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Again, Mayor Todd Gloria is here 1-888-895-5727 is the number to call if you have a question for him. Now the issue over seals at the La Jolla children's pool is headed back to the city Council tomorrow. The city Council is being asked to declare the site a habitat area during breeding season for the seals what would you like to see happen there?

TODD GLORIA: I'd like to see that adopted by the city Council I believe that will be we have to at some point make a definitive decision about what is going on in La Jolla and this is an opportunity to do that. I certainly respect the opinion of those who want joint use and what have you, but I personally think that the right way to go about doing that is to allow it to sort of operate the way it does and by allowing folks to sort of see that your unique opportunity to interface with nature.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And so do you know if you have the votes for that?

TODD GLORIA: You know, I don't. We operate with the Brown act, so folks will come down and give their testimony and the Council will deliberate but in the past there's been strong support for the seals on city Council and I suspect that's probably still the case print

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me move on to another very big issue that's being undertaken at City Hall it's an overhaul of the city charter. I believe city attorney general Smith recently presented the city Council with the idea that there are a number of things that, besides not having any way to impeach a Mayor, that are dubious, or unclear in the city charter. What precisely is wrong with it?

TODD GLORIA: There are number of things I think I certainly have observed in the five years I've been on city Council I know that Council President pro tem Sherry Lightener also identified her committee has been working on this for some time. Naturally the crisis around the former Mayor help to highlight some other shortcomings but there are a bunch of things one examples that I can give you is the investment strategy for the Mount Hope Cemetery cemetery found is actually contained in the chartered so to the extent we want to change the investment strategy to reflect the market we can do that and I think that's kind of foolish. Our veterans hiring policy is contained within the charter. Again that means if we want to change it we have to go to the people. We did that a few years ago and the people rightfully reaffirmed their support for the policy again but again these are kinds of small things that are in there. What I would say I appreciate you asking this question is I would caution anyone from trying to blow up the charter because of one person. Yes we did have a bad Mayor. We had a lemon for a mayor, but this is not a reason for up to up and the entire city charter we should have a thoughtful process that involves a great deal of public input and tackle the issues that need tackling but they should not be a reaction to an unfortunate period in our city's history. It should be improvements that are required because it's smart government, it's good government. Because it is very necessary.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Also when it comes it sounds like it's very itself is complicated. Do you have a timeline?

TODD GLORIA: There's a great deal of respect that goes with this assessment comes before the voters [inaudible] and costing a great deal in terms of elections and printing I think we are realistically could talking about 2016 but that gives us plenty of time to decide of the issues decide what we want to tackle and invite the public input and give something to the voters that I think all of us can stand behind. There are some who want to go good sooner than that we will certainly consider it but this is something that is significant this is the city's Constitution and it's nothing you want to handle lately it should be done with a great deal of public input.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Another tweet for interim Mayor Todd Gloria what you think about cross staffing within the San Diego fire Department and are there plans to address and maybe you can actually explain what this question means? First, yeah

TODD GLORIA: I'll be happy to try processing [inaudible] we have specialized unit like the bomb unit, the hazmat team and these folks are currently sort of full-time and firefighters who have the special ability and soda, they Fireman regular trucks and engines, but they are pulled off in times of emergency to do that. There are some who feel that that's not really a best practice that we should have dedicated bomb unit, dedicated has been and that's all those firefighters would do as you can imagine this is simply a cost issue. This is something we can addressing the budget process next year again this is another reflection of some of the efficiencies we had to put in place to make previously budget years balance. It is something I've been interested in and sort of supportive of in the past something that comes down to dollars and cents.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to address what may seem a frivolous question and this is what I hear all the time. I hear people talking about the proposed plastic bag reduction ordinance. It is such a change, such a shift I think for so many people. Where is the city Council in that process and why is it being undertaken?

TODD GLORIA: We see in other communities and there's a statewide conversation about reducing plastic bag use and I appreciate what you saying that we are so used to it but as a little boy I don't remember plastic bags is or something that human history has been able to live with for millennia, we've had it for 20 or maybe not quite 30 years but what I know is as unfortunate impacts on the natural environment San Diego's obviously famous for its environment we should do everything we can to safeguard it and unfortunately the end up in a landfill and we own the landfill, the city does and we have significant financial responsibilities for trying to extend the useful life of life of the landfill we should do everything intensive to divert construction debris recycling materials in this is another strategy around the so it is early in the Council's process we are generally supportive we've directed staff to move forward with it undergoing an environmental review which is ironic because we believe it's protecting the environment but we are early in the process I think you will see something definitive next year and I hope that we would I think San Diego in the camp of their environment and we should be leaders on the environment.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. I've been speaking with San Diego interim Mayor Todd Gloria thank you so much for your time.

TODD GLORIA: Thank you for yours.